She knelt down in the sea of rose-colored sand before her. Pulling a small glass vial from her pocket, she scooped it full of the gritty powder, then tapped the stopper in and labeled it, "Lexon's Resting Place." Standing back up, she scanned the sparse but stunning landscape before her, with its large, red boulders and cactus-like plants. This place of bittersweet beauty was where, two years ago, she had scattered her husband's ashes after his fatal fall. He'd been climbing out of a deep crater while on a soil testing mission and lost his footing. Her heart had fallen with him.
Voice quavering and tears threatening, Sharian whispered, "Darling, I'm here to say 'Good-bye' one last time. Tomorrow the kids and I are being shipped out to Space Station 14, along with the remaining scientists here. I stayed until the very last, but now it's time to leave. The comet is on target to annihilate our tiny planetoid within the month. " Sobs strangled her so she could not continue for several moments.
Her lurking tormenter, Depression, sidled up alongside her weeping spirit and tugged at the frayed edges of her mind. "Stay behind," he beguiled, "Become as ashes yourself to float peacefully through space with Lexon . No more grieving and longing for your best friend and lover."
She involuntarily put her hands up to her ears as if to shut out his seductive voice. The suggestion had its appeal, but in the end she'd decided she couldn't bring more pain to her children. Even though Pelor was in his early twenties and could care for himself, Maidra and Colun were still teenagers and needed her. Their suffering had been deep, too. Wiping her eyes, she pulled the micro-camera from her other pocket and began snapping several memorial photos .
Moments later, another vehicle parked near hers. A young man emerged , waving at her. "Mom!"
Sharian turned, shielding her eyes against the late-afternoon sun. It was Pelor. She knew he worried about her--especially since, in an unguarded moment, she had voiced her inclination to remain when the others left.
"Mom," Pelor said again, coming up to her. "I thought I'd find you here and wanted to say my 'Good-byes,' too. I know this is difficult, but you are a brave woman. Dad would be proud of you."
Sharian began reminiscing. "It was hard for your father and me to leave our parents and siblings--even Earth itself--after we married, but we were excited by the prospect of being pioneers in the new scientific colony being formed here on Queltar. Even though we came by space ship, I sensed a spiritual connection with the old earth pioneers who rode their "prairie schooners" to fresh opportunities in unsettled parts of the young United States. Your way-down-the-line ancestral grandparents were among them, and your father and I felt we were continuing their great adventure of opening up new frontiers."
Pelor smiled. He never tired of stories about Earth and hoped to visit there himself one day. In fact, a few months after settling into the Space Station complex, there would be a chance for a dozen or so people to be accepted for posts in the Space Research Department of the Euro-Nations on Earth. He hadn't said anything to his mother, but he'd filed an application already. Now was not the time to speak of yet another possible leave-taking, however.
Sharian smiled back at him. "Dad and I missed Earth desperately at first, but after you children were born here, it began to feel more and more like home. Now my heart is wrenching with the thought of leaving it--and of leaving him." She looked back at the lonely but tranquil desert which sheltered the remains of her beloved Lexon. In mere weeks, this place would no longer exist, and her husband's ashes would be flung with the rest of the debris into the vast blackness of space.
"God will hold Dad's soul in His bosom until the final times, Mom. Your life together will begin again, never to end." He held out his hand to her. "Shall we take one more walk to the salt-pool caverns? That was one of Dad's favorite evening rambles, and I know it's where he'd go today if he was still alive and saying farewell along with us."
She took the offered hand, while gently grasping the vial in her pocket.
Until we meet again, her heart whispered into the wind.
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